Examples of over exposure to UV light

Photoshoot gone badly wrong

A photographic model suffered severe UV light induced erythema and keratopathy (an eye condition) following a photo shoot under UV-A blacklight. The person concerned initially complained of sore eyes and a red face during the day and this steadily worsened overnight, resulting in blistering to the face, neck and eyes, with associated severe pain.

It was a result of inappropriate UV equipment selection for the application. The right UV wavelengths were chosen, however, the UV irradiance levels were much too high and unnecessary.

It was down to misinformation and misunderstanding on behalf of both the UV light supplier and end user.

Kitchen fly killer fries chefs

Kitchen staff suffered severe UV light induced erythema (sunburn) and photo keratoconjunctivitis during their working shift. Several members of staff complained of flaking skin, streaming eyes and blinding headaches. One chef was screaming from pain.

It was a result of incorrect replacement UV tubes fitted in the fly killer on the kitchen wall. The unit should have been fitted with UV-A blacklight tubes, however, UV-C germicidal tubes were installed.

It was a combination of the electrical wholesaler supplying the wrong type of UV tube and the user fitting them.

Disco fever

Revellers ended up in accident and emergency complaining of sore eyes and superficially burnt skin after an evening out at a night club venue. The incident was caused by excessive UV light exposure resulting in treatment for photo keratitis and skin erythema.

It was a result of a damaged ultraviolet lamp used for visual effects. The outer protective envelope of the bulb was broken, however, the inner bulb was intact and functional. UV light measurements and assessment indicated that people standing approximately 3 meters away exceeded their maximum permissible exposure time within 4 minutes, This compared to more than 8 hours had the unit not been damaged.

It was due to maintenance issues and lack of knowledge regarding the significance of the damage.

Mass photo keratitis in cattle market

A cluster of 50 patients developed photo keratitis after attending a cattle livestock market auction. All presented at the local casualty department complaining of sore and red eyes. They were found to have facial erythema and bilateral punctate corneal erosions, an appearance similar to that seen in welders ‘arc eye’. The facial erythema gradually resolved, with peeling of the skin and corneal changes improved with topical lubricant drops. There were no long term injuries.

It was due to vandalism of two ceiling mounted 700W UV-B mercury vapour light sources, where the glass envelopes surrounding the lamps were damaged.

Politicians exposed

Up to 40 people were admitted to hospital for acute eye pain and erythema after attending a political event. Some described burning sensations in their cornea, whilst some suffered temporary blindness. It was likely to be related to area lighting producing excessive UV light exposure and was likely caused by problems with UV filters, or poor quality light sources with ineffective UV filters.

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UV Safety in the Workplace webinar

This interactive webinar runs through the key considerations for assessment and control of UV light exposure at work in accordance with statutory regulations.

By the end of it you should know what actions need to be taken by your organisation to ensure safe use and compliance with your legal obligations.